Friday, October 5, 2012

Stuffed Awesome

Do yourself a favor, and make my Stuffed Awesome this weekend. My husband, Darren, donned the name for this recipe, which is an original Jax meal. There aren't many, because I don't have a lot of confidence in the kitchen, so usually I follow recipes. Oh, by the way, this is really easy. Wake up mommies! Take a look at Stuffed Awesome, enjoy the mouthwatering details, and then make it!

My local Harris Teeter sells vegetables which are locally grown. A few weeks ago, they were selling a plethora of different varieties of acorn squash. They were so pretty, I couldn't help but buy them, even though the only recipe I knew was the standard maple syrup, butter, and brown sugar. I couldn't help but be drawn to them, and I purchased four different varieties. I threw the stickers away so I don't know what they're called.

I've been trying to find recipes outside of the standard one mentioned above, and the only idea I found interesting was stuffing the squash. But I didn't find any of the ideas appealing. So I started thinking about what would make these taste like the essence of fall. It's OK that it was 83 degrees outside today. I'm still going to pretend it's cool and crisp outside. I was aiming for savory, sweet, and hearty. And something I could whip up on a Friday, in multiple parts, when I'm home with the non-napping toddler, and I have to rush to teach Body Attack the second my husband walks through the door.

We rarely eat beef at our house, mainly because I was vegetarian for so much of my life. I really don't eat meat more than a few times per week, and beef I eat only a few times a year. But a few weeks ago I took Colton to a farm and they were selling local, grass-fed beef, which I will not pass up. Perfect for a savory dish like this! Let me throw at you the cutest picture of my son, picking out pumpkins at this farm a few weeks back. God help me he's so handsome. Today after his non-nap, I was so irritated because he's exhausted yet he doesn't sleep, but then when I came to get him out of his crib he says to me, "I missed you Mommy!". So hard to stay mad at him. Anyways.... the baby pumpkins you see in the picture were the ones he picked out. Because this amazing recipe is just so easy, we spent the afternoon decorating them with paint, glitter, glue and letter-stickers. I love having time to cook and make my baby happy.

And so, Stuffed Awesome was birthed. Here's the process, in pictures. Recipe to follow:

Stuffed Awesome

Four acorn squashes, any variety (although they do all taste different)
1 Cup of Chopped Onion
3 Red Delicious Apples, Chopped
1 pound ground beef, or turkey of your choice
1 tablespoon salted butter
1-2 pinches of salt
1/4 cup tightly packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1.5 cups of Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese grated coarsely, plus 1/4 cup to top squash (I used Cabot White Cheddar and grated it myself)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the squashes length-wise, scoop out seeds (please, save your seeds to make pepitas. If you don't make pepitas, please send them to my house because we are obsessed). Place them in glass bakeware, facedown, with a half-inch of water on the bottom of the dish. Roast the squashes for 30-40 minutes or until fork-tender. Remove them from the oven, drain the water from the dish, and place the squashes face-up.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Pan-fry beef in a medium to large skillet until browned. You can add a pinch or two of salt, but don't add much. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat, then add chopped apples and onion. Cook until onion is quite tender, or about ten minutes. Drain beef (I used a slotted spoon) and combine it with the apples in a mixing bowl. Let it cool a few minutes, then add dark brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 1.5 cups of cheddar cheese. Fold mixture together until incorporated. Scoop out stuffing into the roasted squashes. Top with the remaining cheese. Put the stuffed squashes back in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the cheese and apples look quite baked.

Remove them from the oven, and try not to pee in your pants from the overwhelming deliciousness. Maybe it's just me who has to worry about that these days. Happy first weekend of October, everyone.

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